A Day in the Life of a Clinician Educator: Anne Wong

By: Jamiu Busari

Dr. Anne Wong, MD, FRCPC, PhD

Professor of Anesthesia

Assistant Dean, Program for Faculty Development in the Faculty of Health Sciences

McMaster University, Hamilton

What is your definition of leadership?

According to Dr. Wong, leadership rests on three main pillars: compassion, civility and respect. She describes a leader as someone who truly has the desire to make use of his/her skills to help develop others. A leader is proactive in helping others develop their own abilities and it is never about them. More often than not, they are ready to use themselves to help others. Finally, a leader has the ability to engender leadership in others. This, she explains, is the difference between titled leadership and authentic leadership. 

What makes a great leader?

With regards to the question of what makes a great leader, Dr. Wong recounts a number of qualities that she considers a great leader should have. These include being caring, compassionate, authentic and genuine. Great leaders are individuals who strive for high moral standards (ethical). They are humble and recognize the strength in weakness, have the courage to move forward, and understand the delicate balance between “knowledge of strength” and the “awareness of blind spots.”  Great leaders have the ability to balance assertiveness with humility; they are just and fair.

How do you define success in leadership?

We asked Dr. Wong how she would define success in leadership.  She responded saying that the ability to create leaders beyond oneself and go on to make a difference or do great things for others is a starting point. The ability to achieve goals (i.e., get things done as a result of your work, mobilize people, cause change, create new things and create positive work environments) are what she described as important determinants of success in leadership.

What are the attributes of effective leaders?

Asked what the attributes of effective leaders are, Dr. Wong responds by saying that in addition to the above-mentioned qualities, effective leaders are open, compassionate, understanding/forgiving and accountable.

What are the attributes of ineffective leaders?

In addition to the attributes that define great leaders, Dr. Wong listed a couple of attributes that characterize ineffective leaders. These include a lack of accountability and being self-serving or self-centered. Ineffective leaders are seen as those who tend to promote themselves at the expense of others, have misplaced values and norms and are rigid in their own behavior or views. With regard to the latter, ineffective leaders are “unwilling to examine alternative views besides their own nor engage in conversation to explore new ideas.”

What are ways to develop leadership (recommendations)?

As a recognized clinician educator and leader, we asked Dr. Wong for a few recommendations on how to develop leadership in junior doctors. Her recommendations included:

  1. Practice regular self-reflection.
  2. Engage in conversation, embrace other perspectives.
  3. Adopt interdisciplinary and interprofessional approaches to leadership; learn from disciplines other than the one you are in.
  4. Endeavor to continuously spark inquiry or interest in others.